State of Kuwait

دولة الكويت (Arabic)
Dawlat al-Kuwait
Anthem: Al-Nasheed Al-Watani
National Anthem
Location of Kuwait (green)
Location of Kuwait (green)
Location of Kuwait
and largest city
Kuwait City
29°22′N 47°58′E / 29°22′N 47°58′E / 29.367; 47.967
Official languagesArabic
Ethnic groups
  • 57.65% Arab (30.36% Kuwaiti, 27.29% other Arabs)
  • 40.42% Asian
  • 1.02% African
  • 0.39% European
  • 0.52% Other
Islam 74.36%
Christianity 18.17%
Other 7.47%[1]
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy[2]
• Emir
Sabah Ahmad al-Sabah
Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah
Marzouq Al-Ghanim
LegislatureNational Assembly
• Independence from the Emirate of Al Hasa
• End of treaties with the United Kingdom
19 June 1961
• Total
17,818 km2 (6,880 sq mi) (152nd)
• Water (%)
• 2018 estimate
4,621,638[1] (128th)
• 2005 census
• Density
200.2/km2 (518.5/sq mi) (61st)
GDP (PPP)2018 estimate
• Total
$303 billion[4]
• Per capita
$69,669[4] (5th)
GDP (nominal)2018 estimate
• Total
$118.271 billion[4] (55th)
• Per capita
$28,199[4] (23rd)
HDI (2017)Decrease 0.803[5]
very high · 56th
CurrencyKuwaiti dinar (KWD)
Time zoneUTC+3 (AST)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy (CE)
Driving sideright
Calling code+965
ISO 3166 codeKW
Internet TLDwww.e.gov.kw
  1. Nominal succession within the House of Sabah.
  2. Emirate

Kuwait (t/ (About this soundlisten);[6][7] Arabic: الكويتal-Kuwait, Gulf Arabic pronunciation: [ɪl‿ɪkweːt] or [lɪkweːt]), officially the State of Kuwait (Arabic: دولة الكويتAbout this soundDawlat al-Kuwait), is a country in Western Asia. Situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, it shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. As of 2016, Kuwait has a population of 4.5 million people: 1.3 million are Kuwaitis and 3.2 million are expatriates.[8] Expatriates account for 70% of the population.[9]

Oil reserves were discovered in commercial quantities in 1938. From 1946 to 1982, the country underwent large-scale modernization. In the 1980s, Kuwait experienced a period of geopolitical instability and an economic crisis following the stock market crash. In 1990, Kuwait was invaded, and later annexed, by Saddam's Iraq. The Iraqi occupation of Kuwait came to an end in 1991 after military intervention by a military coalition led by the United States. Kuwait is a major non-NATO ally of the United States.[10] It is also a major ally of ASEAN, while maintaining a strong relationship with China.[11][12][13]

Kuwait is a constitutional sovereign state with a semi-democratic political system. Kuwait has a high-income economy backed by the world's sixth largest oil reserves. According to the World Bank, the country has the fourth highest per capita income. The Constitution was promulgated in 1962.[14][15][16] Kuwait is home to the largest opera house in the Middle East. The Kuwait National Cultural District is a member of the Global Cultural Districts Network.[17]


Early history

In 1613, the town of Kuwait was founded in modern-day Kuwait City. Administratively, it was a sheikhdom, ruled by local sheikhs.[18][19] In 1716, the Bani Utub settled in Kuwait, which at this time was inhabited by a few fishermen and primarily functioned as a fishing village.[20] In the eighteenth century, Kuwait prospered and rapidly became the principal commercial center for the transit of goods between India, Muscat, Baghdad and Arabia.[21][22] By the mid 1700s, Kuwait had already established itself as the major trading route from the Persian Gulf to Aleppo.[23]

During the Persian siege of Basra in 1775–79, Iraqi merchants took refuge in Kuwait and were partly instrumental in the expansion of Kuwait's boat-building and trading activities.[24] As a result, Kuwait's maritime commerce boomed,[24] as the Indian trade routes with Baghdad, Aleppo, Smyrna and Constantinople were diverted to Kuwait during this time.[23][25] The East India Company was diverted to Kuwait in 1792.[26] The East India Company secured the sea routes between Kuwait, India and the east coasts of Africa.[26] After the Persians withdrew from Basra in 1779, Kuwait continued to attract trade away from Basra.[27]

Kuwait was the center of boat building in the Persian Gulf region.[28][29] During the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, vessels made in Kuwait carried the bulk of trade between the ports of India, East Africa and the Red Sea.[30][31][32] Kuwaiti ships were renowned throughout the Indian Ocean. Regional geopolitical turbulence helped foster economic prosperity in Kuwait in the second half of the 18th century.[33] Perhaps the biggest catalyst for much of Kuwait becoming prosperous was due to Basra's instability in the late 18th century.[34] In the late 18th century, Kuwait partly functioned as a haven for Basra's merchants, who were fleeing Ottoman government persecution.[35] Kuwaitis developed a reputation as the best sailors in the Persian Gulf.[36][37]

British Protectorate (1899-1961)

In the 1890s, Kuwait began to feel threatened by the Ottoman empire. in a bid to address its security issues, the then ruler, Sheikh Mubarak Al Sabah signed an agreement with the British government in India, subsequently known as the Anglo-Kuwaiti Agreement of 1899 and became a British protectorate. The Sheikhdom of Kuwait remained a British protectorate from 1899 (until 1961).[18][19]

Celebration at Seif Palace in 1944

Following the Kuwait–Najd War of 1919–20, Ibn Saud imposed a trade blockade against Kuwait from the years 1923 until 1937.[38] The goal of the Saudi economic and military attacks on Kuwait was to annex as much of Kuwait's territory as possible. At the Uqair conference in 1922, the boundaries of Kuwait and Najd were set; as a result of British interference, Kuwait had no representative at the Uqair conference. Ibn Saud persuaded Sir Percy Cox to give him two-thirds of Kuwait's territory. More than half of Kuwait was lost due to Uqair. After the Uqair conference, Kuwait was still subjected to a Saudi economic blockade and intermittent Saudi raiding.

The Great Depression harmed Kuwait's economy, starting in the late 1920s.[38] International trading was one of Kuwait's main sources of income before oil.[38] Kuwaiti merchants were mostly intermediary merchants.[38] As a result of the decline of European demand for goods from India and Africa, Kuwait's economy suffered. The decline in international trade resulted in an increase in gold smuggling by Kuwaiti ships to India.[38] Some Kuwaiti merchant families became rich from this smuggling.[39] Kuwait's pearl industry also collapsed as a result of the worldwide economic depression.[39] At its height, Kuwait's pearl industry had led the world's luxury market, regularly sending out between 750 and 800 ships to meet the European elite's desire for pearls.[39] During the economic depression, luxuries like pearls were in little demand.[39] The Japanese invention of cultured pearls also contributed to the collapse of Kuwait's pearl industry.[39]

Historian Hanna Batatu explains how the British threatened to take the Kurdish area and Mosul out of Iraq provided that King Faisal granted Britain control of the oil in the region. In 1938 the Kuwaiti Legislative Council[40] unanimously approved a request for Kuwait’s reintegration with Iraq. A year later an armed uprising which had raised the integration banner as its objective was put down by the British.[41]

1962–1982 (Prosperity and growing poverty)

Postage stamp with portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, 1957

With the end of the world war, and increasing need for oil across the world, Kuwait experienced a period of prosperity driven by oil and its liberal atmosphere. The period of 1946-82 is often termed "the golden period of Kuwait" by western academics.[42][43][44] In popular discourse, the years between 1946 and 1982 are referred to as the "Golden Era".[42][43][44][45] However, Kuwaiti academics argue that this period was marked by benefits accruing only to the wealthier and connected ruling classes. It saw an increased presence of British, American and French citizens connected with the new oil industry, wealth transfer to people connected with the Emir, the creation of a new privileged upper class of educated Kuwaitis, bankers, and a vast majority of Kuwaitis living a life of penury. This resulted in a growing gulf between the wealthy minority and the majority of common citizens.[18] In 1950, a major public-work programme began to enable Kuwaitis to enjoy a modern standard of living. By 1952, the country became the largest oil exporter in the Persian Gulf region. This massive growth attracted many foreign workers, especially from Palestine, India, and Egypt – with the latter being particularly political within the context of the Arab Cold War.[46] In June 1961, Kuwait became independent with the end of the British protectorate and the Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah became Emir of Kuwait. Kuwait's national day, however, is celebrated on 25 February, the anniversary of the coronation of Sheikh Abdullah (it was originally celebrated on 19 June, the date of independence, but concerns over the summer heat caused the government to move it).[47] Under the terms of the newly drafted Constitution, Kuwait held its first parliamentary elections in 1963. Kuwait was the first of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf to establish a constitution and parliament.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Kuwait was considered by some as the most developed country in the region.[48][49][50] Kuwait was the pioneer in the Middle East in diversifying its earnings away from oil exports.[51] The Kuwait Investment Authority is the world's first sovereign wealth fund. From the 1970s onward, Kuwait scored highest of all Arab countries on the Human Development Index.[50] Kuwait University was established in 1966.[50] Kuwait's theatre industry was well known throughout the Arab world.[42][50] However, it also began to see the growth of plush gated properties , wherein the interiors resembled western villas and the streets were filled with roads marked with potholes.[18]

In the 1960s and 1970s, Kuwait's press was described as one of the freest in the world.[52] Kuwait was the pioneer in the literary renaissance in the Arab region.[53] In 1958, Al-Arabi magazine was first published. The magazine went on to become the most popular magazine in the Arab world.[53] Many Arab writers moved to Kuwait because they enjoyed greater freedom of expression than elsewhere in the Arab world.[54][55] The Iraqi poet Ahmed Matar left Iraq in the 1970s to take refuge in the more liberal environment of Kuwait.

Kuwaiti society embraced liberal and Western attitudes throughout the 1960s and 1970s.[56] For example, most Kuwaiti women did not wear the hijab in the 1960s and 70s.[57][58]

1982 to present day

In the early 1980s, Kuwait experienced a major economic crisis after the Souk Al-Manakh stock market crash and decrease in oil price.[60]

During the Iran–Iraq War, Kuwait supported Iraq. Throughout the 1980s, there were several terror attacks in Kuwait, including the 1983 Kuwait bombings, hijacking of several Kuwait Airways planes and the attempted assassination of Emir Jaber in 1985. Kuwait was a regional hub of science and technology in the 1960s and 1970s up until the early 1980s; the scientific research sector significantly suffered due to the terror attacks.[61]

After the Iran–Iraq War ended, Kuwait declined an Iraqi request to forgive its US$65 billion debt.[62] An economic rivalry between the two countries ensued after Kuwait increased its oil production by 40 percent.[63] Tensions between the two countries increased further in July 1990, after Iraq complained to OPEC claiming that Kuwait was stealing its oil from a field near the border by slant drilling of the Rumaila field.[63]

In August 1990, Iraqi forces invaded and annexed Kuwait. After a series of failed diplomatic negotiations, the United States led a coalition to remove the Iraqi forces from Kuwait, in what became known as the Gulf War. On 26 February 1991, the coalition succeeded in driving out the Iraqi forces. As they retreated, Iraqi forces carried out a scorched earth policy by setting oil wells on fire.[64] During the Iraqi occupation, more than 1,000 Kuwaiti civilians were killed. In addition, more than 600 Kuwaitis went missing during Iraq's occupation;[65] remains of approximately 375 were found in mass graves in Iraq.

Emir of Kuwait with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, 15 January 2014

In March 2003, Kuwait became the springboard for the US-led invasion of Iraq. Upon the death of the Emir Jaber in January 2006, Saad Al-Sabah succeeded him but was removed nine days later by the Kuwaiti parliament due to his ailing health. Sabah Al-Sabah was sworn in as Emir.

From 2001 to 2009, Kuwait had the highest Human Development Index ranking in the Arab world.[66][67][68][69] In 2005, women won the right to vote and run in elections. In 2014 and 2015, Kuwait was ranked first among Arab countries in the Global Gender Gap Report.[70][71][72] Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City was inaugurated in mid 2015.[73][74]

The Amiri Diwan is currently developing the new Kuwait National Cultural District (KNCD), which comprises Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre, Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre, Al Shaheed Park, and Al Salam Palace.[75][76] With a capital cost of more than US$1 billion, the project is one of the largest cultural investments in the world.[75] In November 2016, the Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre opened.[59][77] It is the largest cultural centre in the Middle East.[78][79] The Kuwait National Cultural District is a member of the Global Cultural Districts Network.[17]

Other Languages
Acèh: Kuwait
Адыгэбзэ: Кувейт
адыгабзэ: Кувейт
Afrikaans: Koeweit
Alemannisch: Kuwait
አማርኛ: ኩዌት (አገር)
Ænglisc: Cuwait
العربية: الكويت
aragonés: Kuwait
arpetan: Koveyit
অসমীয়া: কুৱেইট
asturianu: Kuwait
Avañe'ẽ: Kuáite
azərbaycanca: Küveyt
تۆرکجه: کووئیت
বাংলা: কুয়েত
Bân-lâm-gú: Kuwait
башҡортса: Күвейт
беларуская: Кувейт
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Кувэйт
भोजपुरी: कुवैत
Bikol Central: Kuwait
български: Кувейт
Boarisch: Kuwait
བོད་ཡིག: ཁུ་ཝི་ཐི།
bosanski: Kuvajt
brezhoneg: Koweit
буряад: Кувейт
català: Kuwait
Чӑвашла: Кувейт
Cebuano: Kuwait
čeština: Kuvajt
Chavacano de Zamboanga: Kuwait
chiShona: Kuwait
chiTumbuka: Kuwait
Cymraeg: Coweit
dansk: Kuwait
davvisámegiella: Kuwait
Deutsch: Kuwait
ދިވެހިބަސް: ކުވެއިތު
dolnoserbski: Kuwait
डोटेली: कुवेत
ཇོང་ཁ: ཀུ་ཝེཊ་
eesti: Kuveit
Ελληνικά: Κουβέιτ
español: Kuwait
Esperanto: Kuvajto
estremeñu: Kuwait
euskara: Kuwait
فارسی: کویت
Fiji Hindi: Kuwait
føroyskt: Kuvait
français: Koweït
Frysk: Koeweit
Gaeilge: Cuáit
Gagauz: Kuveyt
Gàidhlig: Cubhait
galego: Kuwait
Gĩkũyũ: Kuwait
ગુજરાતી: કુવૈત
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: कुवेत
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Kuwait
한국어: 쿠웨이트
Hausa: Kuwait
Hawaiʻi: Kuete
հայերեն: Քուվեյթ
Արեւմտահայերէն: Քուէյթ
हिन्दी: कुवैत
hornjoserbsce: Kuwait
hrvatski: Kuvajt
Ido: Kuwait
Ilokano: Kuwait
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: কুয়েত
Bahasa Indonesia: Kuwait
interlingua: Kuwait
Interlingue: Kuwait
Ирон: Кувейт
íslenska: Kúveit
italiano: Kuwait
עברית: כווית
Jawa: Kuwait
Kabɩyɛ: Kowɛtɩ
kalaallisut: Kuwait
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಕುವೈತ್
Kapampangan: Kuwait
ქართული: ქუვეითი
kaszëbsczi: Kùwejt
қазақша: Кувейт
kernowek: Koweyt
Kinyarwanda: Koweti
Kiswahili: Kuwait
коми: Кувейт
Kongo: Kuwait
Kreyòl ayisyen: Kowet
kurdî: Kuweyt
Кыргызча: Кувейт
لۊری شومالی: ڤولات کوڤئیت
Latina: Cuvaitum
latviešu: Kuveita
Lëtzebuergesch: Kuwait
лезги: Кувейт
lietuvių: Kuveitas
Ligure: Kuwait
Limburgs: Koeweit
lingála: Koweit
Lingua Franca Nova: Cuait
Livvinkarjala: Kuveit
la .lojban.: ku,uait
lumbaart: Kuwait
magyar: Kuvait
मैथिली: कुवैत
македонски: Кувајт
Malagasy: Koety
മലയാളം: കുവൈറ്റ്‌
मराठी: कुवेत
მარგალური: ქუვეითი
مصرى: الكويت
مازِرونی: کویت
Bahasa Melayu: Kuwait
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Kuwait
монгол: Кувейт
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ကူဝိတ်နိုင်ငံ
Nāhuatl: Cuhuait
Dorerin Naoero: Kuwait
Nederlands: Koeweit
नेपाली: कुवेत
नेपाल भाषा: कुवेत
日本語: クウェート
нохчийн: Кувайт
Nordfriisk: Kuwait
Norfuk / Pitkern: Kyuuwait
norsk: Kuwait
norsk nynorsk: Kuwait
Novial: Kuwayt
occitan: Kowait
олык марий: Кувейт
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: କୁଏତ
Oromoo: Kuweet
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Quvayt
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਕੁਵੈਤ
पालि: कुवैत
پنجابی: کویت
Papiamentu: Kuwait
پښتو: کویټ
Patois: Kuwiet
ភាសាខ្មែរ: គុយវ៉ែត
Piemontèis: Kuwait
Tok Pisin: Kuwait
Plattdüütsch: Kuwait
polski: Kuwejt
português: Kuwait
Qaraqalpaqsha: Kuveyt
qırımtatarca: Küveyt
română: Kuweit
Runa Simi: Kuwait
русский: Кувейт
саха тыла: Кувейт
ᱥᱟᱱᱛᱟᱲᱤ: ᱠᱩᱭᱮᱛ
संस्कृतम्: कुवैत
Scots: Kuwait
shqip: Kuvajti
sicilianu: Kuwait
Simple English: Kuwait
SiSwati: IKhuwathi
slovenčina: Kuvajt (štát)
slovenščina: Kuvajt
ślůnski: Kuwejt
Soomaaliga: Kuwayt
کوردی: کووەیت
српски / srpski: Кувајт
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Kuvajt
Basa Sunda: Kuwait
suomi: Kuwait
svenska: Kuwait
Tagalog: Kuwait
தமிழ்: குவைத்
Taqbaylit: Lekwit
татарча/tatarça: Күвәйт
తెలుగు: కువైట్
tetun: Kuwait
тоҷикӣ: Қувайт
Türkçe: Kuveyt
Türkmençe: Kuweýt
удмурт: Кувейт
ᨅᨔ ᨕᨘᨁᨗ: Kuwait
українська: Кувейт
اردو: کویت
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: كۇۋەيت
Vahcuengh: Kuwait
vepsän kel’: Kuveit
Tiếng Việt: Kuwait
Volapük: Kovätän
Võro: Kuveit
文言: 科威特
Winaray: Kuwait
Wolof: Kowet
吴语: 科威特
ייִדיש: קואווייט
Yorùbá: Kuwaiti
粵語: 科威特
Zeêuws: Koeweit
žemaitėška: Kovėits
中文: 科威特